Friday, June 30, 2006

In the Bailiwick (St Peter Port, Guernsey)

We have free wi-fi access in Victoria Marina, so I can theoretically update the blog live. However, the speed is very hit and miss and Blogger keeps giving me strange downgraded versions of the interface, which makes it rather difficult to use.

Today Ben and I had an excellent school session, studying science, geography and PE. Among other topics, we looked at small ecosystems, the aerodynamics of a spinning disc, the geology of granite, river erosion and the formation of oxbow lakes, and had a lengthy discussion on whether a sea anemone was an animal or a plant. Oh all right, we went to the beach. But we did discuss all those topics and more, by paddling in rockpools, damming the beach streams and playing with a frisbee. Apparently marine biology is no longer a key part of the National Curriculum, which strikes me as a real shame. When I was about Ben’s age we did a field trip to Dale in West Wales and spent several days getting wet and cold on some of the most beautiful beaches in Britain. It was fascinating, though. Ben is struggling a bit with the discipline of school and sessions like this make it much more fun.

Guernsey is a strange place. It’s very self-contained and yet so extremely small. This morning Sam went to the bank and met his ex-wife, this afternoon we were all in the Guernsey Press bookshop and met Sam’s best friend on the island, Robin. I would go bonkers quite quickly here. The outer harbour is the most jam-packed I’ve ever been in (and tonight, Friday, the marina is rapidly heading the same way) – all right coming in yesterday at mid-tide with absolutely no wind, but I’d hate to have to do delicate manoeuvres with six inches to spare and 20 knots of wind behind me.

For a few days Sam has been suffering from a strange pain at the base of his big toe. We have a handy Dorling Kindersley “Diagnose your problem” book on board, which came up with the same conclusion as my half-joking suggestion, that it was gout. So today Sam went off to see a doctor who said yes, it was gout and was probably triggered by dehydration. Drink more water and if it hurts take ibuprofen, that’s £48 please. There’s no NHS here and Guernsey isn’t part of the EU, so the E111 cards don’t work either. Still, at least we have the reassurance of a view from an English-type doctor even though the diagnosis might have been much cheaper in France.

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